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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  July 8, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT

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chris rock in one of his shows about reverend wright, he's saying a lot of white people say it's impossible a 75-year-old black man doesn't like white people. i'm going to tell you a secret, he said, you're not going to find a 75-year-old black man that doesn't like white people and i said that's interesting. >> rose: we continue with joan rivers, a new documentary about her called "joan rivers, a piece of work." >> i think i'm better than ever. in the old days i was worried when i went on stage because you have too much at stake in a way. now days, i'd say anything i want. what are you going to do, fire me? i've been fired.
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bankrupt? i've been bankrupt. what? you're not going to hire me? none no one hired me for years. what are you going to do to me. >> couric: (laughs). >> and it's very freeing. and i said what are you going to do? >> rose: mamet and rivers coming up. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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>> rose: david mamet is here. he's an award winning playwright, screen writer, director and author. his brand of dialogue is has entered the lexicon and mamet speak. he is best known for his pulitzer prize winning play "glengary glen ross" and movies such as "wag the dog." here's his look at some of his work. >> are you the guy that broken? >> no. >> don't sweat it, george, you know why? >> no. >> you have nothing to hide. >> when i talk to the police i get nervous. >> you know who doesn't? >> who? >> thieves. >> why? >> they're ensured to it. >> you think so? >> yes. >> what should i tell them. >> the truth, george. always tell the truth, it's too t easiest thing to remember. >> i can read the book, let's be frank. it's probably almost definitely unsuitable. it probably is artsy.
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but as you said, maybe it isn't. you read it, you tell me and i'll tell rolf. and then you're right. at least we looked. >> i'd be flattered to read it. thank you. >> no, no, thank you. i'll need a report on it. >> of course. >> by tonight. how long will it take you? >> i won't be able to start reading it after work. >> i'll be at home. bring it by my place. (laughs). >> absolutely. thank you. >> no, thank you. >> you want know produce your war? >> not a war. it's a pageant. we need a theme, a song, visuals. it's a pageant. like the oscars, that's why we came to you. >> i never won an oscar. >> that's a damn shame but you produced the oscars. >> yes, i did. o. >> you broke the first rule i ever taught you. never ask a question unless you have to answer to it. even your own expert witness says there was no negligence.
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how about the other cases? >> there are no other cases, this is the case. there are no other cases, this is the case. >> the charts, the concepts. >> charts are simply... >> when i leave here... >> charts are... >> no, i can't. i don't understand, you see, i don't understand. the. >> what? >> any of it. any of it. i'm smiling in class, i'm smiling the whole time. what are you talking about? what is everyone talking about? i don't understand. i don't know what it means. >> i didn't do it. really, i didn't. >> no, darling. >> this letter is addressed to father, did you open it? >> yes. >> you should haven't done that. >> i was going to tear it up. we could tell father it came two days sooner. >> no. >> i'm back for the christmas holidays. >> no. >> i didn't do it. really i didn't. >> rose: david mamet's play "race" is at the ethel barrymore theater. it's his first time directing for broadway. the play mamet wrote is about race and, as he says, the lie wes tell each other on the subject. here is a look at "race."
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>> i know there is nothing a white person can say to a black person about race which is not both incorrect and offensive. nothing. i know that. race is the most incendiary topic in our history. and the moment it comes out, you can not close the lid on that box. that may change, but not for a long, long while. now, meanwhile, the laws are such that i when i... or someday when you, even you, employ an african american, should you wish to to discharge that person, they are armed with the potential to allege discrimination. that's a fact. >> i... >> which allegation... >> i want to... >> which allegation the courts will most likely accept as
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proven. >> rose: he also has a new collection of essays out called "theater." there it is, david mamet on theater. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: define yourself for me. >> well, i wrote this bunch of essays, i hope it's going to come out last year and i thought it was kind of chutzpa for me to address these essays that i was writing about. one of the title of one essay is who does this guy think he is? the answer i came up with is i'm a guy who got his nose broke playing high school football. >> rose: therefore you had to find something else to do? >> that's kind of how i hope... >> rose: or it guided your attitude about life? >> i hope so, yeah. >> rose: so what is your attitude about life? >> well, my attitude about life is i'm thrilled, thank god, to be alive and have those spectacular blessings of living in this country and of... i'm thrilled to be a jew and a great wife and magnificent family and be able to spend my life playing
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this this business with the most wonderful people in the world. >> rose: so the first line of the obituary is "writer" or "playwright?" >> i would think "writer." >> rose: and where does the image of david mamet come from? >> i have no idea. >> rose: what do you think it is? >> no idea. i get to sit by myself all day and write. i'm going to go home and hang out with my family and sleep and do it again the next day. >> rose: but you write about... i mean "againgarry glen ross" is about what? >> about business. >> rose: way business is transacted and the choices people in business have to make? >> yeah. >> rose: yes? >> yeah. it's a draw mat about business. >> rose: and "race" is about? >> "race" is a tragedy about race. >> rose: so what do they all have in common? >> the things that happen to interest me at that time. that's why i say i'm so lucky to be able to go to work and write
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about the things that interest me. i get to figure out what is it that i think and i went to see chris rock in one of his shows and he was talking about reverend wright and he's saying "a lot of white people are saying is it possible that a 75-year-old black man doesn't like white people?" he said "i'm going to tell you a secret, you can't find a 75-year-old black man who doesn't hate white people." i said "that's interesting, i didn't know that before. "so i sat down and wrote this play "race." >> rose: you've also said "race" is about lies. >> well, all drama is about lies. >> rose: toll me about more. >> all draw drama is about something hidden. a drama starts because a situation becomes unbalanced by a lie. the lie may be something we tell each other, something we think about ourselves but a lie on balance is the situation and and a situation on balance as in our life refresh takes over if you're cheating on your wife or i'm cheating on my wife that lie
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takes over your whole life. everything gets relegated to repressing that knowledge. if you're cheating on your taxes or cheating on your... or you feel... or for example if you're neurotic and you think i'm not where i deserve to be or my mother didn't love me or blah blah blah, that lie, that neurotic vision takes over your life. and you're plagued by it until it's cleansed. at the end of the play, the lie is revealed. at the end of everybody play, the better a play is the more surprising and inevitable is lie is. as aristotle told us. plays are about lies. >> rose: in this case the lie is... >> many liesment we tell each other lies about race, we tell ourselves lies about race. >> rose: up but also there's a lie as to whether the man did it or didn't do it. >> correct. it's a courtroom drama that doesn't take place in a courtroom. so the theme is we lie about race and the plot is a guy is accused of a... white
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billionaire is accused of raping a young black woman. did he do it or not and several other things are involved in the plot which i don't want to... >> rose: nor do i. but what happens also is there are lies told to each other, or not told. so therefore it was a lie about the conduct within the lives of the characters. not the defendant... >> that's exactly correct. that's the engine of the play. >> rose: and this started with chris rock saying something on stage about 75-year-old black men? >> yeah, about reverend wright, yeah. >> rose: take a look at this. this is where richard thomas brings his case to this law firm. roll tape. >> i didn't do anything. >> you're white. (laughter). >> is that a crime? >> in this instance. >> you're kidding? >> sadly, i am not. >> do you care that i'm white? >> do i hate white folks, is that your question? do all black people hate whites? let me put your mind at rest. you bet we do.
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(laughter) white folks are scared all to the good, you understand? we're thrilled you're guilty. >> i'm guilty? >> yes. >> because i'm white? >> no, because of the calendar. 50 years ago your white, same case; same facts, you're innocent. this is the situation in which you discover yourself. >> i understand you're testing me. i understand. >> i am not testing you, sir, i am telling you the truth. your people as they were assured by god you're innocent will sell you out. >> and the blacks? >> and to the african american community. >> all right. >> you were found with one of our women. >> i love her. >> isn't that glorious. >> and she loves me. >> well i guess she changed her mind because it says here she says you raped her. >> rose: is it different you're directing this play? >> i directed a lot of my plays over the years. and i directed a lot of movies that i wrote, i directed ten movies that i wrote so this is the first play i did on broadway that i directed on broadway. >> let me make it easier.
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what's the difference between this play being direct bid david mamet and some other well known broadway director. >> i wanted to work on it myself we're seeing james spader, richard thomas... >> rose: thomas stays, the other two go. >> kerry washington, dave alan grier. the new character is eddie his saturday. >> rose: plays the spader part. >> and dennis haze burt who i worked with many years on "the unit." >> rose: and the new woman playing kerry washington is her understudy? >> she understudied kerry for nine months and she's going on now. a wonderful young actress. i wanted to work with the actors because the play was new. i got so much help from the actors who say what about this line later or what if we transposed these things. i'd say good, good, let's do that, let's trim it.
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>> when you cast as a director, what are you looking for? >> somebody who can act. >> rose: i assume there are a lot of people who can act. >> my theories about casting are a lot different. part of it comes from having been for years a failed actor. auditions are just a nightmare for an actor an absolute nightmare. most people are looking for an actor who can act the part. i don't care if an actor can act the part. i'd care if the actor can act. >> rose: why don't you care whether they can act the part? >> because if they can act... >> rose: they can act the part. >> because the part's good. the part's well written. i don't care about that. >> rose: how do you determine whether they can act the part. >> you watch them. you watch their work. you watch their work. >> and what do the best have? >> the best have this magical ability to be spontaneous. to leave the words aside and not try to make the words mean something. henry fonda, they gave him a
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lifetime achievement award, he said "i'd like to thank the directors who broke me of my good intentions." >> rose: somebody said to me that what you have to do as a great actor is say the words as if you have just thought them. >> rose: yeah, of course. that's the result that you want. but you know what? the great actors, we showed that wonderful montage. i worked with some great actors. they don't know what they're doing any more than i know. >> rose: and they couldn't tell you? >> we can tell like i did in my book of essays but the book of essays might be readable because it's readable. who knows if it's true or not. >> great actors can't tell you what they've done. they can? >> they can but it's not... it's so far beyond any artist what they're doing is channeling some force... >> rose: that they don't understand? >> no. because look, the audience is really smart, however smart you
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are, most actors are very, very smart. so if you can figure out what a moment means, they can, too. they're going to beat you to the punch. the only thing a great actor can do is be so spontaneous the moment is coming out of what happens on stage. it's not something you worked up at home. >> rose: are great actors born with something? >> yeah. >> rose: what is it? >> talent. >> rose: but what's the talent? to do what we just said? >> to be able to... to act... to act spontaneously and truthfully under imaginary circumstances. thigh love to act. they love the fantasy of it. >> rose: just name me four or five people. >> we saw dustin hoffman, bobby de niro, james spader, david alan greer, liev schreiber. paul new man, jack warden. >> rose: you couldn't do it? >> i couldn't do it. look, you know, sandy koufax
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used to draw stick figures. he used to draw these stick figures of how you get the fastball to go 95 miles an hour. i can study those stick figures for thousands of years... >> rose: and you can not throw a ball 90 miles an hour? >> no. how many people can throw the ball like sandy foe fax. none. because he was so in love with throwing that fastball he became enamor of the theory of it. >> rose: you wrote this out of what urging? >> well, i love the theater. i we everyday and all the time and i looked around at the theater and the way it's changed and tried to take an overview. what is the theatrical interchange. what should it be? so it's a book about... >> rose: it's exactly what we're talking about. it's sandy koufax. >> that's right. >> rose: this is what this is about. your love affair of what you do well. words, drama.
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>> thank you, that's very flattering. >> rose: is that the way it is or not? >> i think it is. >> rose: "race," you say, the play, is your... you want to contribute to the dialogue. >> yeah. >> rose: and we've been having a dialogue about race for a long time. >> well, look, i said the "new york times"... which is... which is a newspaper. i don't have a canary. i wrote an article for them when the play came out and i said forgive me for trotting forther rue diggs but our earliest theatrical work in this country was by a guy called john stone about the relationship between the micmac indians and the european settlers. and one of our earliest petes of literature is about the same
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period by catherine sing wick called "hope leslie" about the european settlers and the indians. so president clinton and president obama say we have to have a dialogue about race, that's all we have. >> rose: you said in the "new york times" op-ed "most contemporary debate on race is nothing but sanctimony. efforts at exploitation and efforts at restitution seeking to enlarge and prolong dissent and rancor. the question of the poor drama is what is the truth but of the better drama and particularly of tragedy what are the lies. >> yeah, ooh, that's well said. and you read it so well, too. thank you. >> rose: harold pointer who i knew and interviewed. he had a huge intphraupbs on you? >> sure. had a huge... i met him when i was young. we were friends for many years. because he wrote these... the thing that under the me around as a kid, i worked at second city in chicago as a busboy and i never got on stage but i got
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to watch the comics for four or five hours a night for a year or two and they did these improvised seven minute trapblg cal comedic scenes that were just marvelous. you couldn't say why they were wonderful. pinter came up with this thing called review sketches about the same time in 1959, 1960, 1961 and i read it and said my god, that's like second city. it's foreboding, it's bizarre, funny, you can't say why. i thought if i'd play writing, i think i could right like that. >> rose: you saw an inspired model in pinter. >> that's right. >> and there are similarities between what you do and what he did in terms of the pitch that over the dialogue, in terms of how fast it is, in terms of pauses? >> well, he was very much a... he was a good friend of a
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protege... not a protege but friend of samuel beckett. >> rose: exactly. his last play, he was in sal sam youle beckett's play. the last thing he did on stage. >> i directed him and john gielgud and my wife in a zeb-minute beckett play for my wife in called "catastrophe." harold pinter, john gielgud and rebecca pigeon. they called me up and said " we're doing the pinter plays we'd like you to direct one." i said "i'll do wedding for..." they said dream on, there's a seven-minute play called catastrophe. we'd like you to do it so we did. >> rose: do we have actors today like gielgud and richard son and olivier and o'toole? >> of course we do. oh, yeah. >> rose: don't you think it was a passing of a generation never to see before we have actors like that today and they're on stage and film and somewhere at this moment practice ago line? >> yeah, that's right. of course we do. >> rose: let me turn to israel. you in your own words, you have
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said before "for a white man to understand race is as difficult... what it means to be black is as difficult for a non-jew to understand a jew." >> okay, i don't think it's difficult, i think it's impossible. we'll try. >> rose: go ahead. impossible because as a non-jew i can never understand? >> i think that's true. not rationalize, understand. >> you can appreciate but you can't understand. >> one of the underlying themes in race, it starts in a preposition. the first preposition is there's nothing that a white man can say to a black man on the subject of race which is not both incorrect and offensive. the black guy says that, the white guy says that. and then they proceed to tear
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each other apart. what is needd is the utmost restraint because both of prejudices and good intentions are going to cause rancor. >> rose: you said "as a julie relate there is nothing a non-jew can say to a jew on the subject of jewishness that is not patronizing, upsetting or simply wrong." i assume the same holds true among african americans. >> yeah. >> rose: is this true about men and women? >> no. >> rose: why is it different? >> because men and women have the capacity to love each other. it's a biological imperative. >> rose: non-jews and jew cans love each other. >> they can love each other as human beings. here's the problem. it these do with dull which you are. it doesn't have to do with race so much and here i'm drewing on the great writings of thomas sole. >> rose: professor at stanford
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>> it has to do with culture. so for example you say about theater, people wanting to go into the thaoet -r, you have to start young it's like about t books about the royal navy. you're 14 years old, you're too old. you have to start as a cabin boy when you're eight otherwise you can't acculture rate yourself to that... to being cold, wet, hungry and sleepless and while in the midst of a battle. >> have you changed over the years? you wrote about you were a former liberal or something. what did you say? >> i did a political play called "november" where nathan plane plays a nameless president of the united states and the "new york times" asked me... the "village voice" asked me to write an article about politics so i wrote an article called "political civility." and i said i've had this new insight about politics. we might have talked about this
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last time. i said they're all the same. the things that people are mad at bush about kennedy did. and the things people are mad at johnson about jimmy carter did or bush one did. they're all the same. what's needd needd is civility d give the guy the benefit of the doubt taking a deep breath and realizing the purpose of the united states constitution is to recognize our human nature is flawed, sinful, avaricious and every couple years we have to kick the bums out. whoever the bums are. >> rose: have we lost... at this moment in our history have we lost a certain element of civility in the dialogue? >> well, yeah but we still have elections. periodically we lose civility. you go back and read the history of the lincoln-douglas debate. >> rose: jefferson and... >> exactly. they used to have duels on the floor of the senate. times get hard, people become divided and attentions mount.
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>> rose: are you hopeful for america? >> yeah, you bet. of course i am. greatest country in the history of the world. >> rose: are you hopeful for israel? >> i hope so. it depends to a large extent on america. i think anybody who truly truly love this is country has got to love israel because that's the difference? it has freedom for all of its citizens. there's gender equality they're in the midst of a war but so are we. all countries are imperfect. >> rose: what do you think of president obama? >> i'll tell you when we get off the air. >> rose: why do you say is this that? >> i'll tell you what, because my dad rest in peace taught me many wonderful things and he told me "never ask a guy what you do for a living." he said "if you think about it, what do yo ask a guy you do you do for a living" you're saying "how may i gauge the rest of your utterances." are you smarter than i am? rufper than i am, poorer than i
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am? so you ask a guy what do you do for a living, it's the same thing as asking a guy let me know what your politics are before i listen to you so i know whether or not you're part of my nerd which case i can nod knowingly or part of the other in which case i can wish you dead. >> rose: so how do i understand and hear you in your politics in front of a television camera. >> i don't want to burden... since we're talking about the theater, it's not my job as a playwright to burden the audience with sectarian politics because that's misusing their time. >> rose: we're not burdening the audience about sectarian politics. what we are doing is trying to take somebody who we respect as an artist and have him and lead his rather remarkable powers observation in the same way we will talk about his play. maybe his observation of politics have some of the same kind of insights that his play about race does.
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>> maybe so but you wouldn't ask your doctor his politics. >> i would. >> stphuld. >> rose: yes. if he was the best doctor in the world if i violently disagree with his politics it wouldn't make a damn to me. i think what your dad said is interesting because i don't want anybody to think you're asking about their job because you want to make, a... you don't want to make a judgment about them that will color everything else they say but i think what people choose to do is an interesting question. >> rose: it's an interesting question but. >> rose: why you're a playwright is interesting. >> interesting to me to. a question about my politics it's not appropriate to this discussion. >> rose: to be continued. >> i hope. >> rose: i hope. >> i hope so, too. >> rose: "theater" by david mamet, sraes a play he wrote and directed. still on broadway until... with a new cast, by god. thank you. >> thank you very much. charlie.
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>> rose: joan rivers is here. in 1968 she appeared on the "tonight show" with johnny carson who told her "you're going to be a star." she is that and much, much more. for the last 40 years her talent, perseverance and sheer force of will have made her one of the great comedic icons of our time. in eugs to her standup work she can act, she can talk, she can write books, plays, movies, she can direct and she can even be a talk show host, which is the hardest job of all. a new documentary "joan rivers, a piece of work" roger ebert writes that the film is the portrait of a woman who will not accept defeat, who will not slow down, who must prove herself over and over again. here is a look at the documentary. >> will you welcome, please, ms. joan rivers! (cheers and applause). >> what is this? 40 years in the business and this is where you end up!
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no vegas, no giant club dates, kathy griffen has taken all those. when can you get me another commercial? i'll show you fear. that's fear. last year was a very difficult year. >> joan will turn nothing down. >> i will do anything. i will wear a diaper. i love to do other things. i can read a book, get your e-mails, your blackberry. i'm nervous. >> you haven't had your hair done yet? >> no. >> geez, melissa. these are all my jokes over the last 30 years. why should a woman cook, so her husband can say "my wife makes a delicious cake" to some hooker? and you wonder why i'm still working. >> all standups are innately insecure. >> age? it's the one mountain that you can't overcome. i have no one to say "do you
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remember" and that is very difficult. >> i think they need that reassurance that's all a cover. >> i started with the plastic surgery and i became the poster girl for it. then i became the joker. it's bacon, you idiot. >> nobody looks like this except the queen of england. >> this is how marie antoinette would have lived if she had money. i'm getting ready to go to wisconsin. when i say where are the gays they're going to say "dead, we killed them." there's always an adjective before my name and it's never a nice adjective. >> oh, sure, turn against the queen! >> she is a snake. >> much in the way phyllis diller paved the way for her, i wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for joan. >> how can you not find osama. he's on dialysis. there's one outlet in all of afghanistan. find a club and follow the food. oh, like torture is bad. get a brazilian wax.
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you'll give up secrets like you never knew you had. >> rose: i am pleased to have joan rivers back at this table. welcome. >> nice to be back. >> now you have... first time you've seen that. >> first time i've seen that. >> rose: that's what's in this movie. >> yeah. it's so funny to see it and what pieces they pick and to see the reviews. >> rose: stunning, you're surprised? >> beyond surprised. we thought they would say nice, interesting, and we won't to sun dance and it just blew through the roof and i am enjoying every second of it. it was so unexpected. so unexpected. >> rose: here's my impression. it's truthful. >> yeah. >> rose: joan says what she thinks. she can talk about her plastic surgery and her relationship with her daughter. >> i always-- which is a good thing and bad thing, gets me in a lot of trouble-- if you don't tell the truth, what are you standing there doing on stage? you know?
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i get so mad when they say hey, girls, my mother in law... and you know, they don't a mother-in-law. don't talk to an audience unless you've been through it. >> rose: are you surprised that you have had this career? >> i am... i don't know what that career is. i never... >> rose: this life. >> i never, ever had a chance to breathe and go, look what i've done. >> exactly. >> because you're always... >> rose: me too. you're always thinking about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. >> always climbing. >> rose: climbing why? i'll ask the question. >> climbing because somebody right above you is stepping on your puck knuckles and someone t below you is pull pulling on your feet. >> rose: i think climbing also because that's what you do. what you do is you're a comedian. >> and seeing life crookedly. i sit at the... at business meetings and they're all very serious and i'll say something funny and nobody laughs and i
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can't help it. i love performing. >> rose: you don't do it because you need the money. >> a little bit of both. >> rose: in the past i know you have. >> i'm fine. nobody has to write out a check and send me money. but if i want to live as wonderfully as i live i think it's nice to never dig into anything. does that make sense? >> rose: of course it does. >> and i like to be the generous one. i don't know if that's the sense of power but i like to be the one that picks up the check. i like to the aunt or cousin or friend that says "what do you need? here it is." >> rose: do you care if people love you? i am so used to people not loving me that i can't accept the few that really do. >> rose: really. >> yeah. i won't allow myself to go there >> rose: because? >> because i've been betray sod
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often. it's a... i know my daughter, i guess, loves me. >> rose: "i guess"? >> i guess. we don't know what our children... i know i adored my ther. i liked my dad, if i'm really going to be honest. >> rose: you liked him but didn't love him. adored your mother. >> adored her. so maybe my daughter one day will be saying to me... >> rose: "i adored my mother." >> or "i like my mother." >> rose: somewhere in between and you're not sure where it is. >> i'm not sure where it is. >> rose: what would you say about edgar? >> did i love my husband? >> rose: yes. >> i loved my husband but i'm still so angry at him. he just... it's like sampson. he brought down the >> rose: because he... >> because he went up against murdoch and diller and that whole thing where i was fired from fox and then he committed
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suicide over all that. and he knew he'd ruined the career, smashed the career. and i still get angry. >> rose: he couldn't live with that. >> he wasn't strong enough to face it and to... >> rose: and you could have and did. >> i had... what was my choice? what was my choice? i had a daughter. what's your choice? >> rose: and you think about that even today? how could you do this to me? >> i... there was one thing in the documentary that i made them take out that melissa asked me to take out. very oftenly walk to... it's 20 years, charlie. i'll walk past... you haven't had suicide in your family? >> rose: no. >> that's... you walk past his pick tkhour this day and i'll say "you son of a..." or worse. "look what you did to us, you bastard." and then you cry and you're sorry and you mishim and you're so sad for him but the anger never has left me. shaoup did you spend a lot of time thinking about what you could have been, which is johnny carson's successor and how you blew that opportunity? >> i never allow myself to think
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what could have been because you can't change things. >> rose: right. >> i never... what happened... get it out of the way. move forward. >> rose: was that edgar or you? >> a combination. we got a letter when i was still hostessing the carson show from a friend who was the senior vice president of nbc saying here's a list of who think they will replace carson. it was all men, i wasn't on it. he wrote "darling, there's no place for you." and the same week fox came and offered me my own show. so of course we left. >> rose: would you have been able to call up johnny and say "i just saw this list, is that the reality or not?" >> you couldn't call johnny. johnny was... johnny was luluis with 14-r. you didn't have a beer with him after the show. >> rose: (laughs) he was king. >> he was king. go watch "the tudors." yes, my liege, no my liege. you didn't talk to him in the makeup room.
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>> rose: nothing? >> he didn't say hello to you. >> rose: and you didn't talk to him during the break unless he spoke to you? >> you got i. 20 years on the show. and the breaks... we'd be killing it, everything, the break would come and he would start to play with the pencils and i would say the same thing after a while every time for 20 years "band sounds good." and he'd say "yeah." and that was it. >> rose: what the what made him so good, snow. >> the best straight man in the business ever, ever, ever, ever. he's brilliant, the charm that came out of him. he knew when to say "how fat was she?" and unlike a lot of them today, when you were funny he loved it, he appreciated it. you just wanted to make him laugh. >> rose: there was the sense that he is dedicated to making you look good, because if you look good, he looks good. >> and that's what a lot of them don't get today. there's so many talk... the better your guests look... don't
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worry, you'll be there tomorrow night. make your guests be great. >> rose: and don't make the show. you make the show of the guests. the fox deal failed because? >> personal things. i met jamie kellner about four years after i was fired so publicly and they said it was numbers, numbers. and he said something so terribly sad to me. he said at a cocktail party "we never lost money with you. it was all personal." i would rather he said "we lost millions with you, that's why we got rid of you." he said "we never lost a cent with you." and that upset me more because it absolutely destroyed my career. >> rose: why did they do it? because... >> edgar and barry diller and rupert murdoch... before we epbt on the air barry diller turn to me and said "the tale doesn't wag... tail doesn't wag the dog, tell your husband."
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>> rose: he's right. >> totally right. totally right! >> rose: (laughs) did you tell your husband? >> no, i was so... >> rose: so what? (laughs) . >> you get so involved and they fought... they fought over what kind of candy to have in the green room. i mean literally down to hershey kisses or little knickknacks. i mean, it was insane. it was insane what went on backstage. >> rose: what is your talent on stage? >> >> i think i am the neighbor that says what you're thinking. that you go "oh! did you hear what she said? " i think that's who i am on stage. >> rose: (laughs) it's true! >> it's true. >> rose: i can't believe she's saying it but it's true. >> that's what i always want to say that. 's where... can we talk a k from? which is you take "can we talk here?" >> rose: how different are you today than you were then?
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>> i think i'm better now than ever, ever. in the old days i was always a little worried when i went on stage because you had too much at stake, in a way. now days i'd say anything i want. what are you going to do fire me? i've been fired. bankrupt me? i've been bankrupt. what? you're not going to hire me? no one hired me for years! what are you going to do to me? >> rose: (laughs). >> and it's very freeing and i get on stage and say "what are you going to do to me? nothing!" >> >> rose: i first met you... i wish i had the tape, way back when i started in texas and you were promote ago film you had made. ". >> "rabbit test." >> rose: exactly! this was like... >> '74. >> rose: it was amazing. >> and may i tell you something? we got our first good review for it a year ago. >> rose: that right? >> yeah. they showed it. >> rose: see, but this is what i also loved about you and do. first of all, you'll try
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anything and secondly you wanted to make movies. you wanted to do this. >> dying to do it. >> rose: you wanted to be what woody allen became. >> yes. >> rose: and could you have done that? >> i think if "rabbit test" had come out after airplane, we could have done it. we were the first in that genre and they didn't want to see it and afterwards came "rabbit test" and then "animal house." and by then they got all that stuff and we were so early on. >> rose: what do you think of lady gaga? >> brilliant. >> rose: brilliant? >> brilliant! brilliant! she knows... we're all taught... people my age know about lady gaga! >> rose: (laughs) i know, i know. >> i play myself on in my nightclub act with lady gaga. >> rose: (laughs) do you really? because everybody knows her? >> and i have it going a good beat and when i stop i say "that was lady gaga" and half of them go... they can't believe...
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>> rose: (laughs) is that right? but brilliant? understands marketing? >> it's shows business. >> rose: better than ma donna? >> certainly this generation's madonna. i think she's taken where madonna left off because madonna's now become very grand. >> rose: meaning what? >> meaning she's come in from the rain. >> rose: (laughs). >> she's come in from the cold. she's a lady now. and lady gaga says here i am. >> rose: yankee stadium in jerry seinfeld's box. and according to what we read today in the paper, jerry's not thrilled by the performance in his box. >> well, when you really stop and think, he paid for that box. >> rose: it's his box. >> his box. and god knows how they messed it up. >> rose: was jewelry a passion of yours? >> fashion was and, yeah, i used to love to sketch jewelry. and that was just luck. they came to me at q .v.c. when things were really terrible.
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>> was this barry diller then? >> no, this was... he did say "very nice" by the way. >> rose: nice man, actually. >> we kiss hello. you know, again, past is... you've got to move on. >> rose: exactly. move on. >> move on, move on. >> rose: (laughs) get a life. >> when he did buy q.c.c. for a while, he tracked me down in london and said "i'm calling you to tell you so you don't read about it tomorrow i bought q.v.c ." >> rose: what a wonderful stroke. little strokes like that define a person. >> yeah. and i never forgot that. called me late, late, late at night. >> rose: because you were making a lot of money. >> because my career was over, theoretically for the moment. i had gone on t.v. and built a whole new career of selling fashion jewelry. and he wanted me to know it's okay, i bought the company, you're fine. >> rose: you can still be there at q.v.c . >> you can still be there. >> rose: and why not. >> but nice to do. >> rose: how about real estate.
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your apartment was always a pride of yours. >> yes, i'm trying to sell it. i'm hoping some really stupid russian is watching this. or an arab can come and get it. i want somebody that's so rich it doesn't matter. new hampshire is how much is he or she going to put on the table. >> $25. $26 and i'm your maid for a year >> rose: you can have the furniture and everything else. >> give me in it rubles. i'm out of here. >> rose: rupe -les or diamonds a little extra you get the dogs. >> rose: you would never do the dog. you've always had those dogs. >> always had dogs. loved... adore my dogs. rescues. rescues love you so much. >> rose: you go to dog rescue places and get dogs? >> my vet calls me and says to me "we have a dog that's in trouble." and i've gotten two amazing dogs. >> rose: what do you have now? mixed breed or... the worst. oh, i have an old jewish
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woman... an old jewish woman should never carry a pekingese. i've got a pekingese and we just look so terrible. and my other one is mostly halve have knees, we think. halve knees. >> rose: they're house trained when you get them, aren't they? >> no. >> rose: (laughs) do you send them away? >> no, a lot of wee wee pads. >> rose: you say "we"? who's "we"? you and staff? >> i have a wonderful couple who has been with me for 21 years. >> rose: they love you. are you sure about them that? >> i love them. they probably like me. i'm sure they say "the old lady want hearse breakfast." >> rose: (laughs) . >> "here she comes." >> rose: now, men in your life. >> ah. >> rose: okay, tell me. first there was edgar. >> first there was first husband. >> forgot about him. should we forget about him? >> rose: he's probably fine somewhere. then there was edgar, 21 years. >> rose: >> rose: who managed your career. >> who managed my career and was
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tremendous support. never had to worry about my back with edgar. >> rose: right. >> you know how great that is? >> rose: he took care of joan. >> took care of me, took care of melissa. it was a family unit. very strong. and then a couple of minor ones and then oran lehman who is amazing. adored. >> rose: you liked him a lot. >> yeah. >> rose: and melissa... >> melissa didn't understand. first of all, he had been wounded in world war ii. >> rose: he lost a leg? >> lost a leg and said... lost a leg the day before the war was over so nobody cared by the time he came out of the hospital, you know? the boys had gone off... >> rose: you don't want to be the last man killed. >> you got it. and so all they saw was a man on crutches. he was incredible, brilliant, smart, brave, funny, funny, handsome. whole package. >> rose: you were together for how long? >> about eight and a half years. >> rose: when he died... how
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did that end? >> ended badly. >> rose: that's what i thought. it ended badly. >> two ladies got ahold of him, he was getting a little dotty but i didn't care. you know, i was covering a lot of that. and there were two ladies that got ahold of his credit cards and his lawyer called me and said "why are you charging these things?" i said "charging what things?" and one of the ladies would take him to lunch and bye-bye. and i was so hurt, i did something very stupid, i never saw him or spoke to him again. never even let him explain. >> rose: do you now regret that. >> terribly. he used to call me. for a year he called me and i couldn't... the hurt was so intense, the betrayal was so intense. even if it's just lunch and buying her a gucci bag. >> rose: (laughs) yes. that would have been enough, new that would have been a betrayal? betrayal is betrayal? >> betrayal is betrayal. >> rose: because it's really about...
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>> tell me you're doing it and i'll say "thank god you're having lunch with this old tramp. i'm thrilled." >> rose: (laughs) i don't have to have lunch with you. >> exactly! i'm busy working, you're having lunch with this whole whore, fine, enjoy it. >> rose: that would have been okay. >> don't tell me, that's not okay. >> rose: that violates the trust. if we don't have the trust, we've got nothing. >> you got it. never spoke to him for a year. >> rose: and... but you couldn't pick up... you couldn't say yes, look, let's have dinner, let's time... time, time >> by the time i did it was so far gone. >> rose: he was a little bit that the time... >> it was over a year and a half to two years and it was just sad >> rose: all right. do you collect art? >> vincent price was like my father. wonderful old... >> rose: was he really. >> yes. like my father. >> rose: right, right. >> i adored him. >> rose: he knew art. >> oh, did he know art. >> rose: i know. >> and so he helped me collect. i collect a little bit but very
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minor. but i love what i have. >> rose: so what would you hope happens this year to joan rivers in 2010. you've got this movie that people love and love you. it already won awards. you saw how many people are saying wonderful things about it. you like it, it makes you feel like... >> it's a gift. it's a gift. to expect nothing, you're doing a documentary and to have it... people calling me, dustin hoffman coming and saying... i mean... >> rose: saying what? i want to meet you? >> i want to meet you and coming up and having dinner with me? and saying you're an artist and i'm trying to be cool at the dinner table and totally missing my mouth. he was talking to me and melissa, i go uh-huh, uh-huh. >> rose: (laughs) that's great.
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won academy awards. >> "rain man" where do i start? "midnight cowboy." >> rose: you read a lot. a lot. a couple books a week. what do you read? >> nonfiction mostly. >> rose: really? you would read a story about... read a biography of a politician or... >> there's a wonderful book "war ." i just read voraciously. >> rose: do you find them at the bookstore? >> no, that's my charity. edgar and i used to go every saturday night to bookstores and the deal was if you like it, buy it. don't look at the price. and i doyle that. >> rose: just go. if you see something you like take it. >> and i look a book. i don't like... >> rose: you don't like a kindle. >> ach! that dates you, you know? i like a book. >> rose: no, it's okay to like a book. and what about technology? like a... blackberry?
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like an ipad? >> i have my ipad. >> rose: you do? >> i do my e-mails. >> rose: that's great. >> i live with my blackberry but do i like it? i hate it? i get so angry... >> rose: bauds you get what? what makes you angry? >> again, it's separating you, it's one less human contact when people say to me "well, i e-mailed you." but you didn't talk to me. again, one step away from any kind of real communication. >> a little bit about you and melissa. explain the relationship to me. a lot of people got to know her because of the stuff you do at the oscars. >> yes, she's wonderful, smart, loyal, kind, good. i... a wonderful mother. >> rose: you're a wonderful mother? >> she's a wonderful mother. >> rose: but are you a wonderful mother? >> i think i was a very good mother and someone said to me that's why she's a good mother but i think she's terrific. i think she gets a very bad deal
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people that don't like me... >> rose: they don't take her seriously. >> and she's such a good performer and thank god she's producing now on e! and doing an amazing job. >> rose: she's not on camera. >> we're doing a reality show we're starting together called "mother knows best" with a question mark. >> rose: (laughs). >> and we just... >> rose: that's made for you, isn't it? >> perfect. >> rose: perfect for you. >> as quick as you are, it's made for you. >> rose: we wrote eight episodes yesterday and she just was terrific and you're so proud of it when it's your child. >> rose: you don't feel sorry for conan o'brien? >> very sad. you're fired, $40 million, at a minimum then he goes boo-hoo, then he pushes george lopez out of his spot! >> rose: (laughs). >> nobody noticed that. >> rose: how do you feel about leno, snow. >> perfect where he is, put you to sleep, no problems. you never... see i've got to sit
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up and watch this. leno great where he is so you can go to sleep. >> rose: but not at 10:00 because you don't want to go to sleep... >> 10:00 is still late. 11:15, 11:30, perfect. >> rose: is show business, the whole thing, your passion? >> it's... i understand when people say... i don't mean to sound so egotistical. it's like like a nun's calling. i never could ever think of doing anything else when i could put two thoughts together as a child, that's where i was going. didn't know i was going to get there, but that's where i was going. >> rose: show business? >> show business. >> rose: and what was it? was it because you get this sense of... what? >> joy. lawrence olivier, one of the greatest actors, i once said to him "what do you think when you go on stage?" and he said to me "i think this is my space, this is where i belong. and i walk on stage and i'm so
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happy to be there. that you're lucky! that you're doing what you love to do. vincent van gogh painted painteh candles in his hat because he loved to paint! >> rose: brilliant. i will use that. he wanted to see so he had candles. >> candles in his stupid hat so he could paint! and he had to hold the hat up! >> rose: (laughs) you've got see this movie, do. tear, "joan rivers, a piece of work." can i tell them how old you are? you don't care, do you? >> oh, it doesn't mean a thing to me. >> rose: 77. 77. it's a joke. >> rose: so great to see you. >> always great to see you. >> rose: what thrills me most about this is just... because it just gives people a chance to understand and see and it reminds us of how good you are. >> it remind me of how great an interviewer you are because you sit here and you just feel like you're talking to a friend. >> rose: (laughs) joan rivers. the movie is called "piece of
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work. ." captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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